Grouping Plants by Need

One of the four legs of a healthy garden is the availability of water. In nature, ecosystems and plant life evolve around the availability of water and the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Trees shrubs and wildflowers actually assist in water retention by providing organic material (in the form of dead leaves and branches) to compost, nurture the soil, and the plants. Clearly a component of moisture retention is the presence of organic material, and another component is how much water actually lands on the ground. In nature, plants don’t survive that can’t live with what’s available. Most American gardens are not designed with available rainfall in mind and require supplemental water. It is the varied needs of the plants we yearn for, and our lack of awareness of these needs that lead to much of the disease and loss of plants in our garden spaces.

   Every plant evolves in a unique ecosystem comprised of, amongst other thing, specific soils, water availability, humidity, light, and air. Soils can vary tremendously from one location to the next in the ratio of sand, clay, stone, organic material, humus (topsoil), level of acidity, levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, and trace minerals and elements. The make up of the soil, and the topography of the land, severely impacts moisture retention, and where water goes when it lands. Knowing the needs of the plant material you are working with, and amending the soil to the needs of the plant are the first steps to making sure the plants needs are met. Grouping plants by soil preferences would be the next, for example, acid lovers with their own kind, wetland plants together, drought tolerant plants in another group, always with consideration for light needs of course.

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